When looking at the English Language, the linguistic changes it has endured over the last few centuries are noticeable.
Anyone who attempts to read Shakespeare or Chaucer today has to completely wrap their mind around the iteration of English and how it was written during those times.
Language has always been slow to change, and it could take centuries for a new version of an older language to reform.
However, with the invention of the Internet, the English Language is transforming faster today than at any other time in history.
Within McCulloch’s book, “Because Internet,” we’ll review three main points which she makes:
- The Internet has precipitated an eruption of informal writing
- Internet Linguistics is a new and exciting field
- Social Media and online communities are perfect examples of Ray Oldenburg’s third place
Lesson 1: The Internet has precipitated an eruption of informal writing
When younger, most people learned to write from school projects, as well as to read from various publications, like a book, magazine, or newspaper.
This type of writing is known as formal writing, and legal writing is very proper. Formal writing tended to follow all of the grammar and punctuation guidelines and did not allow for a lot of free-flowing thought processes.
With the advent of the internet and cell phones, people were allowed to write what they wanted and how they wanted to write it. No longer are they restricted to the formal writing techniques, and this type of informal writing led to people feeling like they could have a real conversation with written words.
In recent years, there is a trend of shortening phrases into well-known acronyms, like btw (by-the-way), omg (Oh my Goodness), and ikr (I know, Right).
There has also been an explosion in Emoji’s, as they can convey a feeling without having to type it out. Language is changing, with the trend using an ever decreasing amount of words, and it is hard to tell when this will stop.
Lesson 2: Internet Linguistics is a new and exciting field
Why do people call the same thing two different words? For example, is a can of Coca-Cola a soda or pop? Why do we have different words and accents and way of saying things even within the same country?
The Linguistics community has been attempting to figure out questions like this, and others, for some time now, and they have discovered some fascinating concepts.
One of these concepts is people tend to have relationships that are classified as both strong ties and weak ties.
A Strong ties relationship is someone who is a family or a very close friend. A link which is weak ties is an acquaintance or someone we are around but don’t spend much one on one time with.
Those who are only surrounded by strong ties relationships tend to have the same core linguistic structure.
On the contrary, someone who spends more time around weak ties tends to pick up on varying levels of linguistics, which then shape how that person talks.
With the advent of the internet, people are now able to communicate with a large number of weak ties, which is rapidly changing how people speak a language.
Lesson 3: Social Media and online communities are perfect examples of Ray Oldenburg’s third place
Ray Oldenburg introduced the third phase place back in the 1980s. He suggested that everyone has three different places they spend time; the First place is Home, the second place is work, and the Third place is Social Spaces.
In the past, Social Spaces were spaces where people came together to hang out, whether it was the beach or an arcade, a bowling alley, or a diner. Now though, that third place has quickly become the social media platforms we are engrossed within.
Facebook, Twitter, Reddit are all large platforms where people now come together to hang out online.
Some of these spaces are with friends you see regularly, and others are people you meet online who have shared interests.
This new dynamic has opened up a whole new world of possibilities of spending time in the third place, and at times, people believe their on-line relationships give them a better social interaction than their in-person relationships.
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